11 × 8.5 × 1 in
Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Tokyo, Japan
5 in stock (can be backordered)
Clark Art Institute
University of Virginia (UVA)
This profoundly elegant and perceptive artists’ book by the always enigmatic Veronika Schäpers is a metaphorical parable conflating the romanticized isolation of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden with the social isolation of Covid-19 era lockdowns. Thoreau personally meditated on the minutiae of nature in his immediate surroundings, and Schäpers re-presents his thoughts with impressions and material from the world of medical science.
“When the coronavirus spread across the world in the spring of 2020, a large number of diagrams, tables, and graphics were published simultaneously that showed the risk of infection, case numbers, and much more in a wide variety of ways. The faster the pandemic advanced, the more diagrams and statistics were created. It was almost as if the authors were hoping to lessen the horror of the pandemic, or to give people a sense of control over the growing danger! Some of the graphics stood out to us because of their abstract beauty, so jewelry designer Susan Pietzsch and I began to collect and study them. There were no regional limitations. Susan Pietzsch collected examples from her home in Japan, and I, from mine in Germany. Since we could not meet in person for the entire time due to the lockdown and travel restrictions, we communicated exclusively through video calls and emails. From the beginning, we wanted to create a book that would describe the positive sides of the first long lockdown in the spring of 2020, for instance, the peacefulness and quiet. We felt this aspect was described particularly well in the “Solitude” chapter of Thoreau’s “Walden”, so it became the basis for our project. In “Solitude,” Thoreau describes the advantages of solitary life in his cabin in the woods of Massachusetts, where he lived as a hermit for two years beginning in 1845.
All of the materials used in our book come from the medical field or the restoration supply industry. For example, the text is printed on filter paper that was originally used in labs, just like the round filters bearing the coronavirus graphics. In order to emphasize the clear, almost sterile impression, we did not use any color; the book comes to life through the different materials and white tones. The font, designed especially for this project by Alex Sonderegger at so+ba in Tokyo, is embossed into the soft filter paper using transparent printing ink.
The font, designed especially for this project by Alex Sonderegger at so+ba in Tokyo, is embossed into the soft filter paper using transparent printing ink. Each page of text shows the delicate outline of a circle that stands for one of the 14 filters included in the book. The round paper filters show abstract symbols and elements, all of which come from graphics representing the global coronavirus events in the spring of 2020. In the context of Thoreau’s praise of nature and solitude, however, they could also be illustrations from the area around Walden Pond.
The book has a flexible binding made of Paraprint non-woven fabric, a material that is used in restoration to cover delicate surfaces. The book and filters are stored separately in folded packaging made of archival cardboard, with a screen-printed title.”
— Veronika Schäpers, 2021, Karlsruhe, Germany
Idea and design: Veronika Schäpers and Susan Pietzsch
Printing and binding: Veronika Schäpers
Font: oldAirport by Alex Sonderegger, so+ba
Paper: 598 filter paper and DP 598 150 round filters from Hahnemühle
Binding: Enduro Ice paper and Paraprint non-woven fabric
Printed with polymer plates using transparent printing ink
Box made of various corrugated archival cardboards from Klug Conservation, Silk-screened title
16 pages + 14 round filters, 27 x 22 cm
Edition: 50 copies numbered with Arabic numerals, 8 copies numbered with Roman numerals